Every year, at least 40,000 teenage couples become new parents in the UK. As amazing an experience as being a parent can be, this life-changing event will also usher in a host of responsibilities and challenges. Unlike older couples, the arrival of a baby girl or boy is usually unexpected for these young parents, which usually leaves them scrambling to adjust to the realities of their new life. With that in mind, we’ve compiled below a list of pros and cons that young couples can both look forward to or prepare in advance as they wait for the stork to come.
Without doubt, the most difficult challenge facing young parents is money. Teen pregnancies are usually unplanned, so not only will parents have no savings, they are usually also unemployed. With their limited education and youth, the choice of employment is also severely limited, frequently to just entry level or menial jobs.
In addition, aside from the cost of clothing, milk and other essentials, young parents also have to allocate money for rent, utility and other expenses. The problem is further magnified when the new-born baby is ill.
Even with government support, most working class couples will spend their entire lives living pay check to pay check and fighting back against the threat of poverty. The financial burden is likely to place great strain on relationships. When one parent leaves a relationship (usually the male partner), the remaining couple and baby will likely end up living in poverty, and will probably end up homeless if they receive no support from family.
There’s no sugar-coating it – there’s hardly any pros for young parents facing financial challenges. Nevertheless, silver linings can always be found when we look hard enough. In this instance, couples who can overcome money problems together can probably overcome anything else that life can throw at them.
Teenage pregnancy will usually precipitate couples dropping out of school or university. For working young mothers-to-be, a career change may be in the offing as maternity leaves and doctor visits are rarely compatible with entry level jobs.
Changes will also impact young parents socially. Clubbing, movies, weekend outings or even drinks with friends will no longer be an option. The needs of the baby must always come first; changing nappies without dirtying your shirt will be the highlight of most evenings. Besides, money will be tight, and baby formula is expensive. Additionally, the social stigma of teen pregnancy tends to drive friends and acquaintances away – it’s human nature.
The awesome responsibility of taking care of a baby will help couples become more mature quickly. They will also become more sensitive to the need of others, and frequently become better people – parenthood usually brings out the nurturing quality inherent in all of us.
A rarely talked about benefit of being a young parent is that couples will still be quite young (late thirties or early forties) when their children become adults. This means, while your friends are still struggling to raise bratty toddlers or insolent teenagers, you can actually start to plan for your retirement while living life to the fullest.
This is probably the best thing about being young parents. Compared to older couples, young mothers and fathers have superior physical and mental energy. They will cope better with the erratic sleeping patterns of babies and inevitable sleepless nights. Their superior physical fitness will also come in handy once their babies learn to crawl and run.
With age comes patience and emotional endurance – the two qualities than young parents have in short supply. You can expect more yelling and swearing at their homes, and when babies fall ill, they are also more likely to cry and go into emotional tailspins.
Outside of injuries caused by violence, childbirth is the most physically and emotionally traumatic experience a woman can have. During childbirth, women suffer tissue damages, wears and tears, muscle cramps, stitches and bleeding, and even the indignity of involuntary defecation. Younger women will heal from this trauma significantly faster than older ones, and complications are rare. Even stretched skins and scars heal faster, and chances of stretch marks are markedly lower.
In addition, younger mothers tend to have healthier pregnancies and babies (with significantly lower chances of birth defects).
Older mothers are psychologically better equipped to handle difficult childbirths, and will be emotionally more stable when faced with negative pregnancy outcomes. The risk of postpartum depression is also lower compared to young mothers.
Further, unless you can afford surgery, expensive skin treatments and other forms of therapy like Hollywood stars, pregnancy will change the shape of your body.
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